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Arizona leads 14-state suit challenging proposed Biden asylum rule

The Louisiana federal court lawsuit is the latest of several challenges mounted this week against the Biden administration’s immigration policies

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s latest challenge to the Biden administration targets an immigration rule granting Department of Homeland Security officers the authority to grant asylum to migrants.

“This is nothing more than a radical attempt to set up a system that encourages illegal immigration and undermines the rule of law,” Brnovich said in a press release that also called the rule an “imperial edict.”

Though Brnovich is leading the charge — 13 other state attorneys general stand as plaintiffs in the lawsuit — the complaint was filed in the Lafayette, Louisiana, federal court. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and myriad executive offices, including U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security, are named as defendants.

Arizona argues that the federal government overreached when an “Interim Final Rule” was published on March 29 this year that would asylum officers — employees of the Department of Homeland Security that typically screen asylum applications from noncitizens for evidence of the necessary “credible fear” of persecution or torture in their home nations — the power to grant or deny asylum to applicants.

As it stands, only immigration judges in the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review have the authority to adjudicate asylum claims. The rule, if not enjoined or struck down by a federal court, will go into effect on May 31 this year.

In their lawsuit, the states say the rule would make it easier for migrants to obtain asylum by lying to asylum officers.

“That rule eviscerates crucial safeguards to our nation’s immigration system and flouts clear statutory commands enacted by Congress,” the lawsuit claims, arguing that asylum officers are not bound by judicial independence but instead “are far more susceptible political control within the administration.”

The same day, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a similar lawsuit over the same rule in the federal court in Amarillo, Texas.

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“Unsatisfied with releasing over 836,225 illegal aliens into the United States within fifteen months,” Paxton’s lawsuit claims without citing evidence for the figure, “the [federal government] promulgated an interim final rule to release even more illegal aliens into our country.”

Legal questions related to U.S. immigration policies abound this week. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard almost two hours of arguments over whether Biden may put to rest the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy that Biden campaigned against and terminated before a Trump-appointed judge reinstated it.

On Wednesday — also in a Lafayette federal court action initiated by Arizona’s Brnovich — a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order that blocks, for two weeks, the Biden Administration from phasing out a policy that had expelled millions of undocumented immigrants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

A boy holds a sign just beyond the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry during a protest in Nogales, Sonora intended to push the Biden administration to allow asylum seekers into the U.S.